Cruising Under Sail & Teaching

It's well known that mathematically minded individuals tend to be interested and competent in music, and indeed one of the MIT Apollo people built high-quality harpsichords as a hobby. Less well known is the correlation between such individuals and sailing, which allowed us who lived in the 20th century, but worked in the 21st, to play in the 19th. This page steps outside the approximate time sequence of pages on this site, to explore the role of sailboats in the lives of some MIT wise guys from 1967 to the present.

Among Apollo and Shuttle engineers at MIT, racing in sailboats was more common than cruising, but the boats tended to be big enough for coastal cruising. In the '60s and '70s, a favorite type was the International One Design (IOD), a sleek 33-foot-long speedster designed in the '30s and built of wood in Norway, raced weekly in Marblehead, Mass. Four out of a total Marblehead IOD fleet of about 15 were campaigned by MIT Instrumentation Lab enginers, mostly as two-man partnerships. Dick Warren and I bought Ondine in a slice of Paradise called Northeast Harbor, Maine, and with friends sailed her home in September 1967.

There's nothing to equal a racing fleet for training in the arts of sailing -- I certainly needed a refresher after a lapse of 19 years, and apprenticeship to experienced seamen like Dick and some of his friends who sailed with us worked wonders. In 1970, I fitted her out with navigation lights, Dick rigged up a box for a car battery, and six of us went on a merry three-week cruise from Marblehead to Maine's Mount Desert Island and back.

For a more academic type of boating education, my new bride and I joined the Charles River Power Squadron and took the United States Power Squadron (USPS) courses in seamanship, weather, and advanced coastal navigation. I went on to learn engine maintenance, marine electronics, and celestial navigation (all arts to prepare for the world beyond racing), and began teaching some of these courses.

After four seasons in the Marblehead fleet, Dick and I made the shift to a Chesapeake 32, designed in the USA but built in Denmark, an early fiberglass cruising sailboat comfortably accommodating two couples. We spent a few seasons spending vacation time sailing between Block Island, RI and Mt. Desert. In 1975, with our kids just old enough to take part, my wife Vicki and I bought our one-family boat Mashantam, a 35-foot Vindo built in Sweden two years previously. Dick and our harpsichord-building colleague bought a 40-foot Concordia yawl, and devoted their spare time to maintaining her lovely woodwork (and doing a little sailing).

After 38 years, Mashantam is still our one-family boat, and in retirement I again have time to serve the Cape Cod Sail and Power Squadron in teaching and other capacities.